We've all heard of the dreaded Saturn return. But what does it mean and how can we prepare? Of the traditional seven planets, Saturn is the farthest away from the sun that can still be seen with the naked eye. The moon zips through the entire zodiac in 28 ½ days, the sun spends about a month in each sign, and Saturn takes its time—staying in one zodiac sign 2 ½ years. Saturn takes roughly 29 years to make a full orbit around the zodiac wheel, which is the approximate age when we experience our first Saturn return. Consequently, the second one comes at around 59 years old.
What Is a Saturn Return?
A Saturn return is when transiting Saturn in the sky reaches the exact position, by sign and degree, to where it was at the moment of your birth. You’ll probably feel this energy even before it reaches the exact degree. Once Saturn moves into your natal Saturn sign, the process begins and this planet’s presence is known.
Every time a planet in the sky meets up to the exact degrees of the same planet in your birth chart, you experience a “return.” For example, every year we experience a solar return on our birthday, when the sun finally meets the exact degree as it was when we were born. While the sun’s placement is the same, the rest of the planets are in different signs. Astrologers analyze the new planets, aspects, and conversations between signs and planets to reveal themes for the coming year. You can think of your Saturn return almost like a birthday (a once-every-29-years birthday). But instead of solar themes—like being the center of attention, receiving gifts, and making well-wishes for health and vitality—this period brings up Saturnian themes instead.
When Saturn is involved, think: responsibilities, rules, restrictions, obligations, challenges, and lessons. Sometimes tough ones. It’s like a cosmic check-in—and check-up—from the Lord of Karma himself.
This is your astrological coming-of-age story. It is important to remember that Saturn’s job is to show you the areas of your life where you are the hardest on yourself. You are being pushed to level up to the next stage of life. After all, Saturn is the planetary taskmaster, and at this time, he will likely hold your feet to the proverbial fire.
How Do I Prepare for My Saturn Return?
Consider your life before this moment: You have been restricted by the rules placed on you by your parents, teachers, bosses, mentors, and even society at large. Now Saturn is stepping in to ask some tough questions.
- Are you taking responsibility for yourself, your life, and your choices?
- Is your current life path in line with what you’ve always wanted?
- Are you honoring your obligations to others, and most importantly, to yourself?
You will be tasked with finding new tools in order to create a new way forward. It means stripping away a lot of inner insecurities and external support systems to make room for an upgraded outlook and vision for your life. As a rule, Saturn takes his time to ensure that you do, too.
It is a slow-moving process, so as you go through this, remember that there are no shortcuts, there will be tests, and you will get through it. By the end of your Saturn return (and by the time of your second and third Saturn return), as you continue to apply these hard-earned lessons, you will eventually greet Saturn like an old friend. You’ll see that Saturn’s tough love during your return called upon you to stop giving away your power. As a result, you’ll see that Saturn was not the author of your life. You are—and always were. Subsequently, Saturn didn’t take away anything that was meant for you. Saturn is here to confront you and ensure that you’re on the right path.
To fully understand Saturn’s lessons for each of us, find Saturn’s sign and house placement in your birth chart, and then read through for an explanation of what it means for you.
Learn More About All the Planets
Saturn in Aries/Saturn in the 1st House
As the cardinal and fire sign of the zodiac, Aries is associated with trailblazers. Think people who kickstart ideas, projects, and conversations without hesitating, second-guessing themselves, or getting bogged down in the details. While having a sun in the fiery, go-getter sign of Aries is a natural fit, your Saturn Aries natal placement can introduce you to a diametrically opposed set of values. There can be a conflict between the themes of free-spirited impulsivity versus strategic planning. For someone with Saturn in Aries, this fire energy can make you want to blaze your own path, like an independent pioneer. Meanwhile, your inner Saturnian principles want you to slow down, assess, and think things all the way through. For you, your Saturn return will turn the heat up on this innate conflict and bring it close to its boiling point.
The key to your Saturn return in the sign of Aries, or when it occurs in the first house, is to examine your relationship with the word “independence.” Aries rules the head, and the first house is related to topics like our bodies. Therefore, this house also relates to our identities, health, and vitality.
You may be asked to view your role as a leader in whatever organizations, partnerships, or companies you work for, belong to, or are associated with. It's time to review your specific role within them. For example, it's time to ask yourself: Do they nurture your sense of identity, or are they not allowing you the personal freedom to grow and shine? Conversely, are you so fixated on “going it alone,” that you are denying yourself an opportunity to be part of a team that you can actually lead? This is the time to be authentically committed to how you express yourself and manifest your will into the world.
Saturn in Taurus/Saturn in the 2nd House
Taurus conjures up images of practical comforts and luxurious materials, fully embodying the fixed, earth sign temperament. In addition to physical possessions, Taurus is also about values—the ideas, principles, and people that matter most to you. With Saturn’s slow and steady presence in this sign, as someone with Saturn in Taurus, you have inner tools to curate resources for yourself and others. However, you may find you are overly attached to things or people in order to feel confident. You may even tie your self-worth to your bank account.
When your Saturn return is in the sign of Taurus, or in the second house, your keyword will be “security.” What does security mean to you? What are your personal priorities? Are you responsible with money? Is there an imbalance between indulging in earthly comforts and planning for the future? Do you fantasize about living beyond your means, but are you not putting the budget in place—or the work to get there? On the flip side, it's time to question if a scarcity mindset and an ingrained feeling of financial insecurity has prevented you from truly living life. Remember, Saturn returns are about exposing vulnerabilities and insecurities in order to clear out stagnant thinking and habits. With Saturn in Taurus, your lesson will be rooted in how you couple material security with emotional security. You can and should dream big and live big—just plan wisely on how you will get there.
Saturn in Gemini/Saturn in the 3rd House
Gemini is known for a love of communication. Gemini thrives on a constant stream of information, differing viewpoints, and modes of expression. What else would you expect from this mutable, air quality? When you have your natal Saturn in Gemini, you may feel Saturn’s constricting influence on your self-expression. An early childhood experience may have left you feeling inhibited, or shy about communicating your wants and needs. You may fear being “wrong” about what you think or feel. As a result, you default to facts over feelings. If there is a problem, you’re great at gathering the details, but when it comes to the big picture, you could easily feel overwhelmed.
When your Saturn return is in the sign of Gemini, or in the third house, your lesson will center around the theme of “integration.” We know that Gemini is the sign of The Twins—but that doesn’t make Gemini “two-faced” the way popular memes would have you believe. What Gemini represents is the integration of the dual light and shadow sides within us. During your Saturn return in Gemini, you’re being asked to become whole. To master your connection to the truth—namely, your truth. Are you on a path that engages you—one that’s both mentally and emotionally stimulating? Can you trust not only cold, hard facts, but can you trust yourself? If things start to feel too real, do you lose interest and find something else to focus on? Instead of seeing so many options and getting stymied from overstimulation, you are being called to integrate your desires and become self-autonomous. Your lesson is one of self-discovery, and learning that your greatest teacher in this life is yourself.
Saturn in Cancer/Saturn in the 4th House
Cancer is connected to maternal energy and the home. As a cardinal water sign, it is associated with mothers, family units, our childhood home, and the ways we feel bonded to others. With Saturn’s presence in Cancer, there will be a conflict between your desire for nurturing and a need for structure. Cancer is always looking to initiate an emotional connection with others, but in the quest to do that, you may overstep other people’s boundaries. Perhaps others may end up also trampling all over your boundaries.
When your Saturn return is in the sign of Cancer, or in the fourth house, you will confront how you define the word “boundaries.” Your challenge during your Saturn return in Cancer is to learn where you end and others begin. It is knowing that you can love and care for others deeply, but the only person you are emotionally responsible for is yourself. What does home mean to you? You may realize that home is wherever you are, because as a Crab, you metaphorically carry your house on your back. How can you make yourself feel more at home in the world? Do you block yourself from feeling emotions so as not to be vulnerable to others? You may find this interferes with other areas of your life. You may also learn that emotional security is not dependent on what you do—or don’t—receive from others. It is time to give yourself the care, commitment, and compassion that you so freely give others. Allow yourself to receive the love that you may be blocking.
Saturn in Leo/Saturn in the 5th House
Leo energy is all exuberance, expression, and playfulness. As a fixed fire sign, a Leo is like a warm fireplace, inviting everyone to gather around to listen to an engaging story, and of course, watch the show. But when you couple that with the stern, hard-working tenacity of Saturn, your Saturn in Leo placement may manifest as being extra hard on yourself. A Leo lives to perform and entertain, and with Saturn here, you may shrink from sharing your work with others unless you believe it’s perfect. As we know about striving for perfection, it’s an impossible goal.
When your Saturn return is in Leo, or in the fifth house, you are being called to your sacred duty to “create.” Right now, you are being asked to think about your inner child, the person who dreamed big, and fantasized about the magical life they would grow up to lead. Are you so fixated on what other people think of as success? Have you neglected your own skills, talents, and gifts? Can you remember what playtime feels like? If you have Saturn placed either in Leo or in the fifth house, it's likely you shouldered so many responsibilities that you never really gave yourself permission to have fun.
During your Saturn return in Leo, you are being called to prioritize your gifts, and believe in them. Now is a time to internalize any external validation and be your own best cheerleader. You may find yourself in the role of the creator, and like a sculptor, you will cut away the unnecessary clay to bring to life a new work of art.
Your lesson during your return will be to identify which relationships are enriching your life, enhancing your social standing, and helping you understand your purpose. Conversely, this process will also illuminate which partnerships are draining, toxic, or no longer help you achieve your highest self. And which ones have run their course. Through a deeper understanding of your own patterns of relating, you will be confronted with challenges related to cooperation, codependency, people-pleasing, and what is the true balance between yourself and another. You will learn that only you can make these decisions for yourself.
Saturn in Virgo/Saturn in the 6th House
When it comes to the mutable earth quality of Virgo, Saturn typically has a much easier expression. Virgo is associated with having a meticulous eye and extreme attention to detail. For a Virgo, perfecting imperfect systems is their call to service in the world. With the exacting tenacity that comes from Saturn, Saturn in Virgo will have a ritualistic approach to topics like health, healing, daily routines, and work.
When your Saturn return is in Virgo, or in the sixth house, you will be called to investigate your relationship with the word “service.” Virgo is associated with the Vestal Virgin—but this is not about piety and chastity. It’s about living life on your own terms and not through rules placed on you. What systems, routines, and organizations are you slavishly dedicated to? It's time to revisit and consider if these systems are keeping you out of alignment with your own physical and emotional needs. When you see flaws and inefficiencies, is your critical eye also able to discern actionable solutions?
Remember that it is true when they say that the best way you can care and serve others is when you care and serve yourself. With a Saturn return taking place in the sign and house of health and work, your biggest lesson may be that to excel, you have to release control. To heal others, you first have to heal yourself. To give to others, you have to be able and open to receive, as well. As you work through this, you will learn fundamentally what it means to achieve the ultimate work-life balance.
Saturn in Libra/Saturn in the 7th House
As the cardinal air sign of the zodiac, Libra is all about the initiation of new ideas and concepts. And perhaps there is no bigger concept than the process of initiating yourself into a relationship. Known for the balanced Scales of Justice, there is an amicable quality between the temperament of Saturn and the sign of Libra. Saturn is comfortable in this zodiac sign because there is a mutually held, intentional desire and inherent ability for diplomacy and harmony.
When your Saturn return is in Libra, or in the seventh house, you will be digging deep into your relationship with the word “partner.” Libras have an instinct for seeking out partnerships, and with Saturn’s placement here, there will be a karmic nature to your relationships—ranging from friendships, groups, business partners, and all romantic unions. During this time, watch for the people that enter and leave your life. After all, Saturn is the Lord of Karma, and so you will scrutinize with whom or what you have decided to merge your identity with. All kinds of relationships can be great teachers, but not all relationships are designed to have lifelong longevity.
Your lesson during your return will be to identify which relationships are enriching your life, enhancing your social standing, and helping you understand your purpose. Conversely, this process will also illuminate which partnerships are draining, toxic, or no longer help you achieve your highest and best self. And which ones have run their course. Through a deeper understanding of your own patterns of relating, you will be confronted with challenges related to cooperation, codependency, people-pleasing, and what is a true balance between yourself and another. You will learn that only you can make these decisions for yourself.
Saturn in Scorpio/Saturn in the 8th House
For the fixed water sign of Scorpio, you are known to be notoriously private and self-sufficient. There is a relentless quality to this sign, and with Saturn’s placement here, you may find that you harbor many ambitious goals with a simultaneous desire to work out of the spotlight. Saturn appreciates Scorpio’s secretive and strategic approach. And so, Scorpio matches passionate dedication with Saturn’s stubborn tenacity.
When your Saturn return is in Scorpio, or in the eighth house, you will be digging deep into your relationship with the word “trust.” Fiercely protective of the ones you love, and instinctively suspicious of those you don’t know, you will now be called upon to investigate the unknown. How do you accept changes? How do you react to endings? Generally, it's time to finally listen to your inner voice.
During your Saturn return, you may start to question if some of your lifelong trust issues are rooted in a lack of faith in yourself. Are you fearful of merging with others and not being able to retain yourself? Do you have fears around intimacy? Furthermore, Saturn in Scorpio is a deeply powerful placement, and this is a key moment in your soul’s evolutionary growth. It's time to leverage your intuition. How can you protect the ones you love by learning how to trust and master your own self? Formulate a plan on how to best use your power. Who do you want to be after this transformation? What does your rebirth look like? The power is in your hands.
Saturn in Sagittarius/Saturn in the 9th House
For a Sagittarius, worldly pursuits of knowledge, wisdom, spirituality, and adventure are first and foremost. Sagittarius represents a spark that ignites in order to light the flame. It inspires you to learn something new, pursue a new goal, and journey to self-discovery. When you introduce Saturn here, it can often lead to a crisis of consciousness. Sagittarius, ruled by expansive Jupiter, pushes you to pursue what you believe in, while Saturnian instincts pull you back to follow the rules. Who can you put your faith in?
When your Saturn return is in Sagittarius, or in the ninth house, you will deeply examine what your “beliefs” are. Generally, this is a call to action for you to release any limiting beliefs you have about yourself and other people. With Sagittarius ruling the ninth house of higher learning and spirituality, you are being called to broaden your horizons. Perhaps literally by moving to a different location or traveling abroad, but also figuratively, by opening yourself up to different modes of learning, communing, and connecting. You are being called to view yourself as a student of life, which includes shedding any preconceived notions about what you can or should be.
You may find that your beliefs are rocked during this time, in order to test the sturdiness of their foundations. What does maintaining optimism in the face of adversity help you achieve? Can you change your mind about something? If you do, it doesn’t actually have to change anything about your core identity. It's time to stop overidentifying with your opinions. Releasing them will help you see yourself as something greater and closer connected to the source.
Saturn in Capricorn/Saturn in the 10th House
Capricorn is associated with leadership, strength, and discipline. If there is a rugged terrain or a treacherous climb, this ambitious sign's cardinal earth energy will find a way to ascend to the pinnacle. Saturn is Capricorn’s ruling planet in astrology—it’s a natural fit. Generally, with Saturn’s placement here in your natal chart, you will dedicate your life to putting in the work to push through any limitations in pursuit of your goals.
When your Saturn return is in Capricorn, or in the tenth house, prepare to re-examine how you define “success.” With Saturn in Capricorn, you are comfortable with ambition. Status and power, protecting and providing; these topics are your comfort zone. But during your Saturn return, you will be pushed out of your comfort zone. Your limits will be pushed and tested, as you confront what you are willing to sacrifice in order to achieve your aims. How hard are you on others—and yourself? Can you maintain stability if your world gets rocky? Try to release what will happen if you don’t get what you say you want. Can you still rely on yourself to show up when there is no immediate reward for your efforts?
As you navigate through this time, you learn about the weight of the responsibilities you shoulder. Just because you can carry the weight, doesn’t necessarily mean you should or that you have to. For example, that prestige starts with respecting your own personal authority. Can you learn to delegate and allow others to help you bear the load? It’s your time to be the leader you were born to be.
Saturn in Aquarius/Saturn in the 11th House
Future-forward, innovative-thinking, humanity-focused are all phrases associated with Aquarius, the fixed air sign. Saturn may not seem like a natural fit here, but in fact, the Saturnian temperament aligns very closely with Aquarius. Saturn is one of the traditional rulers of Aquarius before Uranus was discovered. With the fixed energy, Saturn in Aquarius has high-minded, dogged, persistent beliefs on how to make the world better—and the tools to get it done.
When your Saturn return is in Aquarius, or in the eleventh house, you will spend a lot of time focusing on what “community” means to you and to the world at large. Therefore, growing up, you may have always felt a little different. You may find yourself questioning why things are a certain way. Now as you enter into your own cosmic coming-of-age story, you will begin to understand the power you hold in being able to throw out the old rulebook and rewrite the future.
For example, you will need to shed outdated versions of yourself and allow yourself the room to evolve in a way you may not have expected. Is there a cause you care deeply about? What are your passions? Focus on finding a group of like-minded people to share your dreams with. It’s a time to take thinking into action, dreaming into doing, and supporting into participating. Besides, you are an active player in authoring your life. So now, it’s time to accept your mission in this lifetime. All you have to do is believe in your uncanny, magical ability to connect with people.
Saturn in Pisces/Saturn in the 12th House
Dreamy, mystical, emotive, and intuitive Pisces is the last sign of the zodiac. This sign's mutable and watery nature inclines you toward caring and compassion, and makes you deeply romantic, creative, and imaginative. With your natal Saturn in the sign of Pisces, you may find that you can spend a lot of time in a fantasy world, but the realities of everyday life can feel fraught and harsh.
When your Saturn return is in Pisces, or in the twelfth house, you will be exploring the realms of “reality,” and how you can live out your dreams. For the most part, you are a sensitive soul. You are naturally drawn to helping those less fortunate than yourself. Your Saturn return reveals lessons in understanding that gift is helping others. And also yourself. You can make order and structure out of the intangible. Usually, you can put words to feelings, and help yourself uncover hidden truths.
Your challenge will be: How can you stay grounded so your energy is not depleted? How can you ensure the people you are trying to help are actually receptive to it? Hone in on where you can best be of service to those you love. Saturn will be pushing you to truly listen to your heart—and your gut—during this time. You will have to pay attention to the messages you receive, even if they don’t fit the narrative you’ve wanted to tell. But you can see that living your dream is a lot more fun than merely dreaming it.